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Adventure Ready Merino

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Customer of the Month: Helen Clarkson

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, HOW YOU GOT INTO CYCLING AND ANY TIPS FOR SOMEONE STARTING OUT?”

I learned to ride a bike before my older brother did and I always had bikes around when I was younger. During school and University I got more involved in theatre and the arts but after graduating University I needed to get to work affordably and I already had a bike hanging about. The further I moved out of London to afford the rent, the more I got into cycling to work. As I got fitter I wanted to do more, and I soon found myself buying a road bike and getting into sportives. I was knocked off my bike by a police car in April 2013 and the anxiety that caused was thwarting my chance of getting back on the bike and recover properly. I signed up to a 60 mile sportive to force myself to get back on the bike and that turned into signing up for a London to Paris charity ride.

To start out you need a bike, an inexpensive second hand one is great for starters, and enthusiasm to just start peddling. Once you sign up to day events, you’ll see exactly what you’re capable of and you’ll gain momentum and sign up for more. All of the specialist equipment can come later once that bug really takes hold! Don’t be afraid of joining a local cycling group; there are some female specific ones and not always for those who want to race. Alternatively, why not start your own cycling group to match what you’re looking for.

Customer Helen Clarkson

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE OUTDOOR SPACE

I’ve never visited a place which took my breath way like Glencoe did, and continues to do every time I return. The first time I ventured that way was in training for LEJOG (Lands End to John O’Groats) and did a day from Glasgow to Fort William. The A82 takes you across Rannoch Moor and down into the glen; the mountains rise up around you and puts everything into vertigo-inducing perspective. I go back whenever I can; I’ve even driven friends up there for a day just to show them the awe inspiring scenery Scotland has to offer.

 

ARE THERE ANY OTHER OUTDOOR SPORTS YOU TAKE PART IN?

After finishing LEJOG in September 2015, a friend of mine invited me along to climb some munros near Glencoe. I was feeling quite down after finishing LEJOG, not because I hadn’t loved the trip but because I’d loved it too much but had nothing further planned, so I took him up on the offer. This began my love of munro bagging. I don’t have very many in the bag yet, but climbing mountains is just as easy to start, and grow to love, as cycling is. Getting to the top of a mountain and looking over stunning Scottish landscape is humbling.

Customer Helen Clarkson

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER FINDRA? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE AND WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT FINDRA?

I was fed up of the tight lycra “feminine” shaped cycle wear on the market and went in search of something different for my next adventure. Danny Cowe, of the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, told me about FINDRA and as soon as I clicked on the site I knew it was exactly what I’d been looking for.

I treated myself to a Caddon top after I received a bonus at work and it’s definitely my favourite FINDRA piece. It’s so versatile; I’ve worn it to work, out cycling, on the turbo trainer, to the park for circuit training and out to dinner. I don’t own anything else which can be worn in so many ways and still keep perfect shape and softness after multiple washes.

The qualities of merino wool suit my needs for my future adventures to a T. I didn’t fully believe the claim that it doesn’t hold smell until I finished my first circuit training session in it and seriously, not even a minor whiff! This will be really useful when wild camping on cycle tours when we can’t always find rivers to take a dip. Beyond the wondrous physical qualities of the wool, the ethos of the company, to get women outdoors and enjoying their freedom and exploring their potential, underpins everything I’m aiming to do in the foreseeable future and is a message which cannot be spread around enough.

Customer Helen Clarkson

LASTLY, WHAT IS YOUR NEXT BIG ADVENTURE?

Imminently, I’m cycling around the world with my fiancé, Mike, in aid of mental health awareness. We’re covering about 30,000km in 16 months and if our money holds out we’ll spend winter 2018 cycling southern Europe then head out to do South America and Africa. My aim is to cycle through every country in the world!